Measure A: Nishi and Our Obligations to Other Californians

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Nishi-Scene-1By Richard McCann

The University of California created what Davis is today. When UC Davis became a full-fledged campus in 1959, the State of California began the process of pouring resources into this city to develop a top notch university. UC Davis is now acknowledged as the top agricultural academic institution in the world.

We can see what the university has brought us all around. If you want to imagine what Davis would look like without UCD, go to Woodland or Dixon. We have a vibrant downtown with many community activities. We have one of the top rated school systems in the state. And our property values reflect the premium of those benefits. Davis is a very desirable place because of UCD. You have chosen to live here because of these amenities that cannot be readily found elsewhere in the Central Valley.

State taxpayers have contributed billions of dollars over the years to the campus, and students have brought resources from around the state, keeping the local economy vibrant. In return, the state has not asked Davis explicitly for any contributions or cooperation. Yet there are obligations that come with hosting UCD. Other state residents are counting on UCD, and its host city, to provide an educational gateway to both UC students and concomitant economic and cultural growth statewide.

How do we meet that obligation? By providing a fair share of housing to students, and affordable housing for faculty and staff. By incubating new businesses that spin off innovations developed on campus. And by cooperating with UCD in its long-range plans. Yes, we need to ask reasonable cooperation from the University in return (which does not always come readily. For example, I opposed the final configuration of West Village, and believe part of its difficulties arise from that configuration.) But that does not mean that we can oppose all UCD-related development.

So how does the Nishi Gateway Project relate to this obligation? UCD cannot and should not host all housing and spin offs on campus. Students need to learn how to live on their own outside of the protective UC womb. And UCD should not be directly involved in commercial activity because that puts the state directly in the role of promoting certain profit-making enterprises. Instead, the city needs to host housing and businesses. Other college towns successfully accomplish these tasks.

Davis is the only significant university town without a large research park; this puts UCD at a distinct disadvantage for attracting research dollars and researchers. And UCD is at a disadvantage recruiting faculty. Many assistant and associate professors have spouses working in technical fields, and universities usually help them find jobs as part of recruiting. Davis lags in offering these opportunities. Nishi will create jobs for this younger adult segment, both for incoming faculty’s families and for graduating students. Davis is already experiencing a hollowing out of our young adults population; we need to reverse this trend to keep the town vibrant.

Nishi offers a mix of research and development space and housing close to campus that meets most of our standards for sustainability and impacts. It may not offer the “perfect and optimal” configuration, but no one can ever achieve that standard, simply because that definition varies in the eye of the beholder.  Creating affordable housing is about much more than just designating a few units for lower income residents. A constrained housing market guarantees higher prices—just ask San Francisco and Manhattan. The best way to make housing more affordable in Davis is to offer more housing. Nishi does this in the context of a relationship with our biggest employer.

Some suggested that alternative locations exist for this development, that residents will be exposed to excessive pollution, or that we will be losing agricultural land. First, the process of assembling the parcels needed for this scale of project is much more difficult and expensive than opponents realize. Controlling the land is key to success. Second, I have not heard anyone objecting to the new housing developments along Olive Lane, yet they experience the same environmental exposures; the same can be said about much of South and West Davis. And third, farming is no longer economically viable on Nishi. Its isolation makes agricultural activities too expensive—it is time to move on.

Instead, we need to ask if this development is not approved, what will be built instead? We have already seen the type of developments popping up in West Sacramento, Roseville, Elk Grove and even “north North Davis”, i.e., Spring Lake in Woodland. As Davis suppresses growth here, less desirable developments pop up there. Are we really “thinking globally, acting locally” when we close down any new developments by demanding perfection? We cannot return to the bucolic days of the University Farm. Let’s keep real control of our future instead of pushing it off to someone else.

Richard McCann is a member of the City’s Utilities Rates Advisory Committee and Community Choice Energy Advisory Committee. He is a partner in M.Cubed, a small environmental and resources economic consulting firm. His opinions are solely his own and are not endorsed by URAC or CCEAC.

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52 thoughts on “Measure A: Nishi and Our Obligations to Other Californians”

  1. Tia Will

    I have a somewhat different view of the debt or responsibility that is owed by the citizens of Davis to the rest of Californians. I believe that we do have an obligation to help to house UCD students and I believe that Nishi is an good location for this purpose. I also believe that Davis has an obligation to act as a regional partner. Possibly the best partner that we could be to the citizens of our neighboring cities is to allow and encourage them to share the wealth generated by UCD generated businesses by incorporating “innovation parks” into their communities. This would have the advantage of allowing Davis to thrive from the jobs generated directly by the presence of the university and small start ups which are those most likely to benefit directly from the presence of UCD while allowing our neighboring communities to thrive from the presence of the larger companies. A see a regional approach to prosperity as far better than a “Davis first” competitive model.

      1. dlemongello

        Tia of course can answer for herself, but I would guess that when the jobs go elsewhere the people who have them also live close to them.

        1. Tia Will

          dlemongello

          I was about to respond, but you did it very well for me. In addition, I have said many times that I support much more investment in public transportation so that couples who work in different communities can live in the community of their choice using either “work from home plans” or public transportation so that they do not have to drive to work.

        2. Frankly

          I have said many times that I support much more investment in public transportation so that couples who work in different communities can live in the community of their choice using either “work from home plans” or public transportation so that they do not have to drive to work.

          I support more people working for a living instead of living off government handouts, so then based on your argument, you would support just cutting off those handouts so that the people go to work?  What if there are no jobs for them?

          If the improved public transportation you “support” isn’t there, then how do you think it will magically appear by growth opposition that causes more to have to live and work in separate locations?

          This does not compute.

          It seems to me that your “support” of more public transportation is just a convenient fall-back to deflect from the contradiction for both demanding car-less-ness while also demanding more people are prevented from living and working in Davis.

    1. Barack Palin

      I see a regional approach to prosperity as far better than a “Davis first” competitive model.

      Ah yes because we know that all of our neighboring cities think of sharing with Davis when they consider their prosperity.

      1. Tia Will

        BP

        we know that all of our neighboring cities think of sharing with Davis when they consider their prosperity.”

        I see that as completely irrelevant to our moral decision making. If you know that your neighbor is an unscrupulous individual who will steal from others if he thinks he can get away with it, does that mean that you plan to rob him first ?

  2. Odin

    I’m voting NO against based on one issue, Richards/Olive.  Yes we need housing, but I firmly believe the consultants are wrong about their assessment of the intersection.  If someone could computer model what will happen for me I would believe them, but I just can’t see how you can somehow have a four way intersection that has daily backups suddenly become better flowing when you have additional traffic from Nishi, a new hotel complex, Lincoln 40, several thriving businesses, travelers stopping for food off I-80 and a large number of pedestrians and bicyclists from students on Olive.  Wait times will be extended no matter which way you look at it.  The intersection is already dangerous for those of us who walk and bicycle, mostly from people trying to race to beat the lights since they had to wait a while to get there (nearly got killed again yesterday).  I can’t even imagine what it will be like with all the cars making left hand turns on Olive (and don’t tell me students ride their bikes and walk everywhere…they don’t) and the additional traffic.  It’s not like the lights don’t work at the intersection, they do,  it’s the fact that you can’t force a quarter into a penny slot.  Richards still feeds into two lanes going downtown, it’s a crap shoot if you believe it will be relieved by traffic turning left on Olive going to Nishi.  There is no turning back once you vote yes on Nishi.  While most citizens in Davis will probably vote yes on Nishi because it doesn’t affect their commute, those of us on Olive and in South Davis will be stuck with a daily nightmare of traffic and danger.  Oh, and did I mention all the additional pollution from idling cars we have to breath?

    1. Ron

      Has the number of parking spaces for residences and businesses at Nishi, and for commuters that are expected to use the new route (through Nishi, to access the University) been established, yet?

      1. DavisforNishiGateway

        Hey Ron and Odin,

        I think I can provide some clarity here. With regard to the number of parking space for residents and the businesses, these have been established and were included in the EIR which concluded that with all the new improvements (especially the new access point to campus that will reduce the amount of traffic going through the Richards tunnel towards downtown) traffic impacts will be reduced to less than significant.

        As for Odin’s comments, one of the great things that the investments Nishi will make at Richards is that it will create a barrier-separated dedicated bike and pedestrian path that will allow people traveling to and from South Davis the chance to bike or walk downtown without having to worry about dodging cars. Keep in mind that this legally has to be constructed before any construction can happen at Nishi. As you note, currently, the intersection is quite dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists. Nishi solves that. As for the modeling, if you are looking for an animation of some sort, that doesn’t exist because that is not how the traffic engineers conduct their modeling. There is an explanation around their modeling in the draft EIR. Here is a link to it in case you want to check it out. It looks like it starts at section 4.14-27

        http://documents.cityofdavis.org/Media/Default/Documents/PDF/CDD/ED/projects/Innovation-Centers/Nishi/Draft-EIR/4.14-Traffic.pdf

        In the end, this was a professional job done by experts who have studied this intersection many many times. If you don’t support their findings, I suppose that is your prerogative, but I hope that you can come around to seeing that their work is quite meticulous and is the best estimate that we have to make decisions.

        1. Ron

          DavisforNishiGateway:

          Thanks for the response.  However, I didn’t see an answer to my question.  (Perhaps it is in the EIR, but would you mind just providing it?)

          Here’s the question, again:  Has the number of parking spaces for residences and businesses at Nishi, and for commuters that are expected to use the new route (through Nishi, to access the University) been established, yet?

          In other words, this would include everything proposed for the Nishi property, and any new parking lots/spaces that would be related to the new access (e.g., parking lots/spaces on University land).

           

        2. DavisforNishiGateway

          Hey Ron,

          I am not entirely sure what you are asking, but I think this should answer you. The EIR analysed the impacts for 1920 parking spaces, but the maximum allowed in the project baseline features is 1732–meaning a 10% reduction from what was studied. The project baseline features also set a target of a maximum of 1550. That would be close to a 20% reduction in what was studied and provided for in the EIR.

        3. Ron

          DavisforNishiGateway:

          Thank you.  (That is part of what I was asking.)  From your response, I now understand that there are between 1,550 – 1,732 parking spaces allowed on the Nishi site itself.  (Please correct me, if I’m wrong.)

          The other part of my question is this:  How many parking spaces is the University planning to add, to accommodate those who will use the new access point(s)?  In other words, the new access provided through Nishi itself, and the (increased?) access via Old Davis road?

          For example, is a parking lot planned on the other side of the new access tunnel (from Nishi), on University land? If so, how many parking spots would there be?

          Overall, where will cars park, when taking advantage of the new access point(s) to the University?  And, how many lots/spots are expected to be needed on the University itself?  (Or, is this something that has not yet been established?)

          This seems like something that should be worked out in advance, since one of the “selling points” of the Nishi proposal is the increased automobile access to the University.

        4. DavisforNishiGateway

          Hey Ron,

          Glad I could help. Yeah, the project baseline features call for the property owners to pursue a goal of 1550 (this is the number that is going to be closest to reality because the property owners are committed to achieving it), and establishes a maximum of 1732. As for the number and placement of parking spaces on campus, that will all be part of the LRDP which the university is currently in the midst of preparing. Those don’t really factor into the traffic analyses because those parking spaces (which may or may not be increased) are not really related to Nishi (the residents and employees at Nishi will be using the parking spaces onsite, not somewhere on UC Davis’ campus). I hope that is clear.

        5. Ron

          DavisforNishiGateway:  “As for the number and placement of parking spaces on campus, that will all be part of the LRDP which the university is currently in the midst of preparing. Those don’t really factor into the traffic analyses because those parking spaces (which may or may not be increased) are not really related to Nishi (the residents and employees at Nishi will be using the parking spaces onsite, not somewhere on UC Davis’ campus). I hope that is clear.”

          Thanks for the response, but I can’t help but ask if you’re “kidding me”.  How would anyone perform an accurate traffic analysis if we don’t know where automobile commuters (who are the primary beneficiaries of the increased access points to the University) are going to park?

          For example, if there’s going to be new parking lots on the other side of the new access tunnel, this would provide an enormous incentive to use the new access provided through Nishi.  If not, perhaps automobile commuters would continue to use the current (Richard Boulevard) tunnel, to drive to their final destination/parking area.  (Of course, either way – commuters to the University would still have to negotiate the Richards/Olive intersection, along with those trying to access Nishi itself.)

          Again, a primary “selling point” of Nishi is that it provides increased automobile access (for commuters) to the University, itself. Without knowing where commuters are going to park, it’s just about impossible to know exactly where/how the increased automobile traffic will flow.

          I’ll check for a response later today.

    2. Matt Williams

      Odin said . . . “but I just can’t see how you can somehow have a four way intersection that has daily backups suddenly become better flowing when you have additional traffic from Nishi, a new hotel complex, Lincoln 40, several thriving businesses, travelers stopping for food off I-80 and a large number of pedestrians and bicyclists from students on Olive.  Wait times will be extended no matter which way you look at it.”

      Odin’s list above does a good job of illuminating an interesting series of questions, which go as follows.  I encourage everyone to jump in and answer them.

      1) Do the Nishi  contributions to the Olive/Richards intersection traffic issues cause you to vote yes or no on Measure A?

      2) Would the Hotel/Conference Center  contributions to the Olive/Richards intersection traffic issues cause you to vote yes or no on that project if we had the right to vote on it?

      3) Would the Lincoln 40 apartment complex contributions to the Olive/Richards intersection traffic issues cause you to vote yes or no on that project if we had the right to vote on it?

      4) Would The Lexington and/or The Arbors apartment complex contributions to the Olive/Richards intersection traffic issues cause you to vote yes or no on those projects if we had the right to vote on them?

      5) Would the Dutch Brothers contributions to the Olive/Richards intersection traffic issues cause you to vote yes or no on that business if we had the right to vote on it?

    3. Topcat

      Yes we need housing, but I firmly believe the consultants are wrong about their assessment of the intersection.

      Everyone seems to be ignoring the problems that will occur on Old Davis Road on the UC campus if traffic is re-routed that way.  Old Davis Road is a very slow two lane road with stop signs, a stop light, a traffic circle and several busy pedestrian and bike crossings.  Think about the traffic going north under the new Railroad undercrossing.  When it gets to the “T” intersection with Old Davis Road we can certainly expect a big backup at peak times.  I foresee a line of vehicles backed up through Nishi during peak times.

      In their zeal to get Nishi approved, the “Yes on A” folks are completely ignoring the new traffic problems that will occur on the UC campus north of the Railroad tracks.

      1. DavisforNishiGateway

        Actually, no one is ignoring this question. I have actually answered you several times before. Here it goes again in case you missed my earlier replies. The EIR identifies mitigation measures which the property owners are legally required to take. If you want to see them, I suggest you check out the link I included above with regard to traffic. What’s more UC Davis is in the midst of completing its LRDP which will identify further mitigation measures the university will require the property owners to complete in order for the university to grant connecting access to Old Davis Road. Nishi will also extend the Davis Bike Loop across the property and through the connecting undercrossing; this will make it more convenient by bicyclists and pedestrians. Remember, the property owners are legally required to complete the connecting access between Old Davis Road and Olive Drive through the railroad underpass before any construction can occur at Nishi as part of the project baseline features, so there is absolutely no reason to be concerned  that these will not be implemented. The university doesn’t want to see traffic degraded along Old Davis Road, and it won’t be.

        What will happen, however, is that people coming from Woodland will be incentivized to take the Old Davis Road exit instead of using Richards, and people coming from South Davis or I-80 can take the bypass road through Nishi to avoid the Richards tunnel if they are going to campus. This is why Nishi is our best option for traffic solutions.

        1. CalAg

          “the property owners are legally required to complete the connecting access between Old Davis Road and Olive Drive through the railroad underpass before any construction can occur at Nishi as part of the project baseline features” @DavisforNishi Gateway

          This statement is false. It also appears in The Nishi campaign literature in addition to the Vanguard. Completion of the infrastructure is only required for occupancy permits – not construction.

          Here’s a link to the Baseline Project Features:

          http://cityofdavis.org/home/showdocument?id=5229

          The controlling language starts on page 5 in the “Phasing” section:

          Construction of backbone infrastructure, including the central street, utility mains, and drainage improvements, may be commenced only after commencement [note – this does not say completion] of construction of both the connection to UC Davis and the reconfiguration of the Richards Boulevard interchange

          Certificates of Occupancy [note – this does not say Construction Permit] will not be issued for any buildings on the property until the UC Davis connection (which is subject to approval by the Regents of the University of California), the Interchange improvements, and the road connection to West Olive Nishi Property Baseline Project Features Approved 2/16/16 6 Drive (including the Putah Creek Parkway bridge and bikeway path) from the Project have been completed.

          The Baseline Project Features do not specify that “property owners are legally required to complete the connecting access between Old Davis Road and Olive Drive through the railroad underpass before any construction can occur at Nishi as part of the project baseline features,” and clearly allow for construction of the entire project before completion of the roadway infrastructure (i.e. construction but not occupancy is allowed).

          This opens the door for a scenario in which the City has to deal with a partially built Nishi project that is stalled because of some unforeseen issue with UCD, UPRR, and/or Caltrans.

          Its perplexing why the City created this potential Catch-22.

        2. CalAg

          “What will happen, however, is that people coming from Woodland will be incentivized to take the Old Davis Road exit instead of using Richards”

          They will be incentivized because the traffic jam at Richards will be much worse.

          “and people coming from South Davis or I-80 can take the bypass road through Nishi to avoid the Richards tunnel if they are going to campus”

          Only after the get past the traffic jam on the south side of the overpass and can access the left turn lane. Not an improvement or a solution.

    4. dlemongello

      And why would anyone turn left on Olive drive and drive through Nishi to get to Old Davis Road rather than just get on or stay on the freeway to go exit there. Calling that a diversion of traffic is ridiculous.

      I do hope more will bike or walk if for no there reason that it will be faster and more convenient than waiting in traffic and finding a place to park.

  3. Frankly

    Sounds like a lot of “sky is falling” chatter ignoring the studies done by actual experts.

    The road design change will provide an alternate route to campus that does not exist today.  If the Richards tunnel is so backed up as you claim it will be (it is already backed up) then drivers will naturally pick this other route.

     

    1. Odin

      It may be “sky is falling” to you because it doesn’t affect you, but to the rest of us it is.  How about I apply the “sky is falling” to people who think Nishi is a last resort for student housing?  It isn’t, there are other, better alternatives.  And to all those posting up how they don’t want their neighborhoods turned into mini-dorms they are no less NIMBY than I’m being if you really think about it.

      1. The Pugilist

        Given that the situation is bad now, why wouldn’t you want an influx of $33 million to try to fix the problem?  How do you expect it to get fixed without that money?

      2. nameless

        To Odin: What are the “better” alternatives for student housing?  For tax revenue generation?  For traffic mitigation at and around Richards?

        1. Odin

          See this is the point of contention.  If I suggested building an apartment complex in North Davis on that DUSD land that is currently unoccupied instead, you’d have a ton of people saying it doesn’t encourage people to walk or bicycle (even though there is a bus stop somewhere nearby) and also, all the people in the neighborhood would scream how it alters their neighborhood in a negative fashion.  So who would lose?  Those of us living on limited incomes on Olive Drive.  NIMBY’s with greater money always win.  As far as revenue, Nishi will do little to nothing to the cities revenue stream. I’d prefer soda and cigarette taxes instead.  At least they don’t create a traffic nightmare a half a block from where I live.

        2. nameless

          To Odin: More taxes is a nonstarter.  I very much doubt citizens will go for a sizable enough parcel tax (nor soda tax either, which would not be enough to address the city’s fiscal problems anyways).  Thus the roads continue to go unrepaired.   How can you assume Nishi will not contribute tax revenue to the city’s coffers?  If all the R&D space is filled, there is the potential for $1.4 million in tax revenue to the city, which doesn’t include other tax revenue generated by other economic activity from Nishi.  Let’s put it this way – there is far greater chance for additional tax revenue coming to the city if Nishi is built than if it is not.  No Nishi, no tax revenue from Nishi.

        3. DavisforNishiGateway

          Odin, besides the Finance and Budget Committee estimating that Nishi can generate up to $1.4 million annually for the City (after correcting for overly conservative assumptions in the original economic impact report) let’s not forget the contributions Nishi makes to DJUSD, Los Rios Community College, the Affordable Housing Fund, infrastructure improvements at Richards, and to many other entities that define the Davis lifestyle (like libraries and the County Office of Education’s programs). Dan Carson wrote a great article describing the many benefits Nishi will provide fiscally. Here’s the link: https://www.davisvanguard.org/2016/04/nishi-projects-fiscal-benefits-extend-city-davis-beyond/

        4. Frankly

          Those of us living on limited incomes on Olive Drive.  NIMBY’s with greater money always win.  As far as revenue, Nishi will do little to nothing to the cities revenue stream. I’d prefer soda and cigarette taxes instead.  At least they don’t create a traffic nightmare a half a block from where I live.

          I get it now.  You are an actual NIMBY since you are apposing what is actually in your “back yard”.

          Now that I know that, I have more empathy for you.

          Here is a message to everyone living in the core area or near core area.   You are at risk for having to deal with change to your neighborhood.   And in some cases the change will be significant.

          Why?

          For one reason and only one reason.

          In 1980 about 12% of all California high school graduates went on to earn a 4-year degree.

          Today about 66% go on to earn a 4-year degree… and that percentage is climbing.

          And you happen to live in or near the core area of a city housing a popular state university.

          If you are the type that does not like change, you are unlucky… because change is being forced upon you by large social and economic forces none of us can control, and we can only accept and do our best to accommodate.

          Nishi is an example of us doing our best to accommodate.

          If you don’t like it and cannot live with it, you should move.

  4. nameless

    If someone could computer model what will happen for me I would believe them…

    Why would you assume the traffic analysts for Nishi didn’t use a computer model?

    1. Odin

      Because I don’t think they ran the numbers right and I question the accuracy of their results.  Like someone seeing a doctor for a second opinion, I would believe the remedies would work if a second study was done by non-partial consultants hired from outside the Sacramento area.  Sorry if I’m picky.  I think the consequences of the current assessment being wrong is too great an issue.  We are talking about a major transformation to the main entrance into our city.  I don’t care how much money they pour into it, it may look aesthetically pleasing, but considering the effects of grid lock and the dangers it poses to pedestrian and bike traffic, they better be absolutely sure it won’t make the situation worse than it already is, and I find it hard to believe it will.

      1. DavisforNishiGateway

        Fehr and Peers are impartial (they were hired as outside consultants by the city, they have absolutely no stake in one outcome or another) and are a nationally recognized firm. It seems quite unreasonable to me when you say you “don’t think they ran the numbers right.” On what basis? These are traffic experts who are professionals at modeling and understanding traffic. They have studied this intersection many many times for a variety of other projects and studies. In fact, they noted that this is one of the more studied intersections in Davis. This is not being “picky,” it is claiming that you know more than credentialed and recognized experts. Surely you must see that is an untenable position to hold. I understand that you are concerned about traffic impacts (who wouldn’t be if you are living on Olive Drive?), but I am sure you agree that the current situation is not good, and that it is going to get worse as the university adds another 9,000 students and staff over the next five years. We have to try something; now is not the time for more of the same. The proposed traffic mitigation measures are the result of dedicated study by traffic experts. At the end of the day, it hurts everyone if we reject expert recommendations because we are afraid there is possibility that they could be wrong. We have to go with the best information available, and the best information tells us that mitigation measures Nishi will implement reduces the project’s traffic impacts to less than significant. Doing nothing, however, will surely make things worse.

        1. CalAg

          “We have to try something …”

          The Traffic Element of the EIR says that traffic will get worse. Maybe we should try the “no project” alternative.

        2. MidCentury

          Here’s a reason I’m questioning the impartial experts opinions:

          The EIR 4.14-13  states current peak PM traffic on Eastbound I-80 between Richards and Mace is a Level Of Service of C. LOS C is defined as :

          Flow with speeds at or near free-flow speeds. Freedom to maneuver within the traffic stream is noticeably restricted, and lane changes require more care and vigilance on the part of the driver.

          We all know that Eastbound I-80 is actually at a standstill most afternoons, so that doesn’t build credibility in the report. It sure would be nice to have some evidence that the voters can see and understand such as a traffic microsimulation of the project and downtown.

          http://www.paramics-online.com/what-is-microsimulation.php

      2. nameless

        You “don’t think they ran the numbers right”?  On what basis do you make that assumption?  I personally worked with one of the traffic consultants while on the Davis Transportation Advisory Group, and believe him to be an outstanding and above board traffic expert.  It is one of the main reasons I trust the Nishi traffic assessment.  Another major reason has to do with the proposed traffic configuration itself.  If the traffic improvements will reroute traffic away from the tunnel, it would seem to me it is highly likely that would improve the traffic situation.

        Secondly, there is no way of 100% guaranteeing anything.  It is a risk assessment, and the assessments from the experts is that the traffic will be improved.

      3. Tia Will

        Odin

        but considering the effects of grid lock and the dangers it poses to pedestrian and bike traffic, they better be absolutely sure it won’t make the situation worse than it already is, and I find it hard to believe it will.

        For the past 12 or so years, I have daily felt the impacts of this intersection. Because I lived in North Davis until 5 years ago, and worked in South Davis, I travelled this route nearly every weekday. Five years ago when I moved to 2nd and J, I had dreams of walking to work which were stymied by the dangerous conflict of pedestrians vs automobiles at the freeway off ramp. I know this intersection well and feel that you are conflating two separate issues to poor effect.

        I do not know whether the proposed changes will lead to longer, shorter, or exactly the same length of waits to cross. But what I do know is that passages that completely separate pedestrians and bicyclists from automobiles will be vastly safer than the configuration that we have now. I have a bias in favor of health and safety. I do not honestly care if I have to wait a few more minutes in a line of cars, or choose a different route. I do care deeply if someone is injured or killed at this intersection when a separated path such as is being proposed could have prevented that tragedy.

  5. Napoleon Pig IV

    I think the argument that Davis residents have some kind of long-term social or moral obligation to the rest of California is amusingly bogus – and the kind of argument that is trotted out when the outcome of a vote is seriously in question. However, I think the Nishi project makes sense for purely pragmatic reasons – for both the developers and for the city of Davis. Oink!

    1. Frankly

      This response is a bit surprising to me given what I understand your principles to be.  Isn’t moral shaming over a definition of individual and community responsibility better than government policy to try and force some government defined version of moral behavior?

      We live in Davis.

      Davis is a college town.

      The demand for student admissions has risen as the economic need for higher education has risen.  People are much less likely today to have an economically successful life without a college education.

      It would seem to me that we have an individual moral obligation to accept reasonable changes to our community to accommodate this growth in the student population.  Conversely, it would seem to me to be immoral to oppose change to our community that would accommodate this growth in the student population.

      If not our responsibility, who’s responsibility is it?

      It would be different if the demand for higher learning education services was not increasing in the state, but UCD was just pursuing a growth strategy.   However, that is not the case.

      1. Napoleon Pig IV

        “Isn’t moral shaming over a definition of individual and community responsibility better than government policy to try and force some government defined version of moral behavior?”

        Absolutely. I agree with you completely on this point. However, my observation had more to do with Nishi being good for both the city of Davis and the developer, and therefore a good idea – independently of whatever moral obligations might or might not exist.

        But, when anyone refers to “the people of California” or “the American people” or any other vaguely defined collective, I immediately sniff the malodorous aroma of propaganda lurking in the wings and react with skepticism.

  6. Rob White

    At what point do we actually look back in the history books and note that much of the Richards Blvd traffic, caused almost solely by the lack of a widened and modern tunnel, stems from one simple cause… the opportunity to create a better access point was taken off the table by previous community leaders due to the “historic nature” of the subway… which is really just obfuscation for not wanting to allow growth in South Davis by creating a barrier.

    Those that sit in traffic coming into downtown each morning, or leaving in the afternoon can look back in the records to see whom they have to thank for this pleasure.

    The improvements to the Richards Blvd, Olive Drive and I-80 intersections (and paid for by approval of the Nishi Gateway project) won’t completely fix the bad transportation planning at the Richards Blvd Tunnel, but at least it can help alleviate some of the daily grind. Anyone living or working in South Davis that wants to come enjoy the downtown probably sees the greatest value in voting Yes on Measure A.

    1. Don Shor

      Actually, Rob, nearly every civic leader and local politician supported widening the tunnel when it went before the voters. The voters rejected it.

    2. Frankly

      Don makes a good point, but I don’t remember the Richards widening ever being put to popular vote.  Am I wrong?  Assuming I am not then Rob makes a good point that it was our leadership that failed us.  If it was a popular vote… why?

      1. Don Shor

        In 1997 it was rejected by a 56% vote. According to various accounts, it was also put before the voters (or a bond to do so, or some variation of it) in 1968 1973, and 1987, and failed each time.
        The argument that got the most traction in 1997 was that widening the tunnel would just move the bottleneck into the downtown. Excessive cost with little benefit.

        1. The Pugilist

          Yep.  If the underpass were causing the bottleneck, the traffic would flow freely once they get through it – but instead the traffic remains bottlenecked along 1st Street and. Sometimes further.

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